Radio Dabanga (Hilversum)

Sudan: Abbala Leaders Announce End of Hostilities in North Darfur

Photo: IRIN
Armed men in Darfur (file photo).

Jebel 'Amer — Two Abbala leaders announced their intention to end hostilities and violence between their tribe and Beni Hussein in North Darfur on Friday afternoon, 11 January.

Nasr El Din Abu Sakhalah Hakim Dar, a border guard leader, ordered his peers to immediately halt the aggressions and to lay down their weapons, during an interview with Radio Dabanga.

Dar is also the coordinator of all Aballa supporters coming from different areas of Darfur by car, or riding horses or camels, to fight in al-Sref Beni Hussein locality.

He suggested that they cease fire and first examine what solutions will be brought forth before raising their own demands.

The Abbala leader revealed that both conflicting parties are using weapons and cars belonging to the government of Sudan.

He added that all of them are members of the Central Reserve Forces (known as Abu Tira) or of border guards, stressing that they "all know each other very well" as they trained together in different occasions.

During the clashes, the Abbala tribesmen used 150 Land Cruisers, 40.000 horses and 2.500 camels, Dar affirmed.

Tossed in the wells

Radio Dabanga spoke to another Abbala leader, Mohamed Abu Saffa Bahboush, head of the horses' coordination. He revealed how the clahses erupted in the region.

According to Bahboush, Beni Hussein men have "continuously harassed" Abbala around the gold mine of Jebel 'Amer. They claimed the site belonged to them and were "verbally abusive".

Last Saturday, the day the clashes began, Beni Hussein elements killed 45 members of the Abbala tribe, "20 were stabbed and 25 were shot dead". In addition, they "tossed a large number" of Abbala men in the wells of Jebel 'Amer.

Bahboush said that, as a reaction, Abbala killed eight Beni Hussein members.

Next, the Abbala wanted to evacuate the wounded to the Saraf Omra hospital, but were ambushed by Beni Hussein men on the way at Gusa Djama.

Additionally, he continued, two Abbala villages were burned by their adversary.

This led the Abbala to call for the backup of "their brothers" from different parts of Darfur, leading to the eruption and spread of clashes through the "whole area", one of the leaders claimed.

Bahboush admitted that the Abbala burned several villages but that they decided not to enter al-Sref Beni Hussein city, as the Beni Hussein nazer (leader), Ajideiy Adam Hamid, was in the town and "they have respect for him".

Both leaders are calling on the nazer to stop the other side from fighting until the resultions are made public.

Bahboush and Dar reaffirmed they will honor the cease-fire and assured they would implement it "immediately".

130 dead

While speaking to Radio Dabanga they estimated that the total number of dead would be between 120 and 130 people, without giving further specification.

They affirmed that Beni Hussein men killed 83 people on the first day of clashes, adding the victims belonged to different tribes.

The leaders denied that the Abbala killed women and children and that they carried out lootings, but admitted that they burned villages.

"We did not kill those who were injured, but we did take weapons and mobile phones from those who were dead", Bahboush told Radio Dabanga.

Dar and Bahboush asserted that "everyone in the region who owns a radio is listening to Radio Dabanga".

In this light, they took the opportunity to announce the cease-fire during the interview and they asked Radio Dabanga listeners to "spread the word" about the end of hostilities, especially to those who may not have heard their instructions.

Fighting erupted in the gold mining area of Jebel 'Amer as a result of a dispute between members of the Arab tribes of Abbala and Beni Hussein on 6 January. Initial reports suggested that at least 60.000 workers fled the region in the first few days of clashes.

On Tuesday, Radio Dabanga reported that at least 20 villages had been burnt and that the fighting appeared to have expanded further than the gold mine area of Jebel 'Amer.

The day after, a total of 25 villages had been set on fire and the conflicting parties had reportedly received backup from communities from Central, South, West and parts of North Darfur.

In the fifth consecutive day of violence, Abbala gunmen allegedly enclosed the capital of al-Sref Beni Hussein locality and burned another four villages in the vicinity.

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InFocus

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Armed men in Darfur (file photo).

Fighting between ethnic groups in North Darfur has displaced more than 100 000 families since clashes started about a week ago. Read more »